60 Practical Tips You Can Use to Make Living With COPD Easier

60 Practical Tips and Life Hacks to Make Living With COPD Easier

Managing a lifelong, chronic disease like COPD can take a lot of time, energy, and motivation. Even if you have a straightforward treatment plan, adhering to that plan perfectly and consistently every day can be a challenge and a drain on your mental resources.


Many people with COPD have difficulty fitting medication and lifestyle changes into their daily life. As a result, many patients find themselves missing medications, skimping on physical activity, or giving up on their healthy diet and nutrition plan.


If you don't have a good system and routine for taking care of yourself and your COPD, it can take a huge toll on your life and severely disrupt your daily routine. And if your daily life is chaotic, it makes it all too easy to give up on things like your hobbies, interests, and social life that are vital for a happy, healthy life.




But living with COPD doesn't have to be isolating or anxiety-inducing. There are a multitude of ways to simplify and streamline your daily activities to make managing your COPD much easier.


This article includes more than 60 tips and life hacks you can use right now to simplify your life and make caring for yourself and your COPD much easier. All you have to do is take these tips to heart and put them to work in your everyday life, and you'll soon be managing your COPD like a pro.


Tips for Hacking your Medication Routine


1. Keep Your Pills in an Obvious, Convenient Place

Spilled Medication Bottle

If you have difficulty remembering to take your medication at the right times, you might need to put them in a more convenient spot. Put some thought into where you are most likely to notice them to help remind you as you go about your day.


It's best to keep them out on the counter in a part of the house where you spend a lot of time rather than tucked away in a cabinet. Consider keeping your medication in the kitchen if you take your pills at mealtimes, or keep nighttime pills ready by your bedside for maximum convenience.


2. Use Containers or Pillboxes to Manage Your Pills

Pill Box

Pill organizing containers are great because they make it easy to keep track of your pills and when you need to take them so that you'll never forget to take a medication. They also allow you to set out your pills ahead of time so that you can stay on top of your medicine schedule without having to dedicate any brain power to it during the week.


3. Set Timers

Set Timers 

While some lucky people can remember important tasks and times without any reminders, most of us need assistance to remember to do things at certain times. That's why you should always set alarms for when it's time to take your medication instead of relying on your memory alone.


If you have a cell phone or watch, you can set alarms to remind you every single time you need to take your medication. You can make a note on each alarm to remind you what medication it's for and even set a unique alarm sound for each medicine.


If you set up recurring alarms, you'll only have set them once and they will automatically repeat day after day and week after week so you never have to worry about it again. If you don't know how to do it yourself, have a friend or family member help you, or follow these tutorials for Android (https://www.askdavetaylor.com/can-i-set-a-repeating-alarm-in-android/) and iPhone.(https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207512)


4. Use Smart Medication Technology




There's a whole new market for “smart,” wireless pill bottles that help you keep track of how many pills you have and even when to take them. Some can be set to give you physical reminders by chiming and flashing, and can even send customized reminders to your email or smartphone if you happen to miss a dose.


Although this technology is relatively new and pricey, it's a great all-in-one option for anyone who has trouble taking medication on time, especially when other techniques don't seem to work. Some smart pill bottle options include Pillsy, AdhereTech, and SMRxT.


5. Remind Yourself with Notes and Post-its

Set Physical Reminders 

Setting timers and using smart technology works great for many people, but sometimes the old-fashioned methods work better than anything else. You can use a physical calendar to mark what medications you take on which dates and cross them off when you take them.


Another time-honored technique is the post-it method. To remind yourself to take your medication throughout the day, write a note to yourself on a sticky note and leave it where you're certain to see it when you need to.


It's best to leave sticky note reminders on places you're likely to look at the same times every day. Many people have success posting them on their bathroom mirror, work desk, fridge, or on their front door.


6. Lump Your Medicine in with Another Daily Routine


Many people find it's easiest to remember to take their medication if they pair it with another task they do every day. Think of an activity you do reliably at the same time every day, and use that habit to remind you to take your medicine.


You could pair morning or afternoon medications with activities like exercising, brushing your teeth, or eating a meal. Remember to take evening medications by pairing them with activities like watching a favorite show, taking a walk, or preparing for bed. Mealtimes work great as reminders, too!


Diet Tips and Life Hacks for Better Nutrition


7. Start Simple and Go One Step at a Time

Whole Grain Bread 

Going all out with a brand new diet or trying to do too much at once is a recipe for failure. When you want to make long-term, sustainable changes to your eating habits, it's best to start small.


Think about some simple ways you can replace foods in your diet with healthier versions. You could try opting for wheat pasta or wheat bread instead of processed, white grains, or make the switch to buying low-sodium versions of your favorite snacks.


Start by making small changes, one or two things at a time, and then add more healthy choices after you've mastered the previous step. If you take it slow and steady and give yourself time to adjust, you'll find that improving your diet and nutrition doesn't have to be hard or unpleasant. It just takes consistency and determination.


8. Make Healthy Snacks Easier to Access

Sliced Fruit

Source: Martijn van Exel

Oftentimes we get stuck in the habit of snacking on chips and processed snacks because they are easy and convenient. Healthy snacks, by contrast, often take time and effort to prepare.


Luckily, all you have to do is prepare nutritious snacks ahead of time to turn the tables around in favor of healthy foods. Anticipate your snacking moods by chopping up fresh fruits and veggies or preparing healthier, homemade versions of your favorite processed snacks.


You can make low-sugar and low-salt versions of many foods, including potato chips, yogurt, crackers, and granola. You can also mix up your own trail mix or buy healthier snacks like fruit bars from the store.


The main idea is to make healthy foods more available and convenient than unhealthy foods. If you always have some healthy snacks ready to grab, most of the time you won't even be tempted to go for the unhealthy ones.


9. Eat More Slowly


This might not be the most new or creative way to reduce calories or avoid overeating, but it's truly effective. Eating slowly works to help you eat less overall because it allows the food to settle in your stomach and make you feel full.


It takes time, sometimes 5-10 minutes or more, for your stomach to recognize you've had enough food and tell your brain to stop eating. So if you spread out your meals over a longer period of time, you'll start to feel full before you've eaten too much, instead of after.


10. Trick Yourself into Better Portion Control

Portion Control 

A common cause of overeating and poor nutrition is improper portion control. It's easy to get used to piling large quantities of food on your plate to the point that anything less just doesn't seem like enough.


One way to trick yourself into eating less is to plate your food on smaller dishes. Putting a healthy portion on a large plate leaves too much empty space and makes the amount of food seem measly, but if you put it on a small plate your brain will hardly recognize the difference.


11. Sneak in More Veggies

 (link to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thrivingveg/8419901285)Sneak Veggies into Your Meal

Source: Scott Veg

Ideally, you should be eating fresh veggies with every meal. But that doesn't just mean raw veggies from the produce section; frozen vegetables are often just as nutritious and more convenient to keep around for cooking.


If you have trouble stomaching a variety of veggies, try using them in new ways and in new recipes. You can even disguise them by pureeing them and adding them to pasta sauces, meatballs, and other mixtures. In the right meal with the right spices, you won't even know that they're there!


12. Don't Skip Breakfast

Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day

Living with COPD can be exhausting and fatiguing, partially because it requires your lungs to work harder and burn more energy to function. That's why it's very important not to skip meals, especially breakfast, so your body has a steady supply of fuel throughout the day.


13. Eat Smaller Meals Throughout the Day 

Eating more frequent, smaller meals is not only good for your metabolism and digestive system, but it can help with COPD symptoms as well. Eating large meals or overeating causes your stomach to expand and press on your diaphragm, causing discomfort and difficulty breathing.


Try reducing the size of your lunch and dinner and adding some planned snacks throughout the day. Some nutritionists even recommend eating 4-5 smaller meals spaced throughout the day instead of 2-3 big ones like most people do.


14. Get Creative with Your Fruits and Veggies


Creative Fruits and Veggies 

If the thought of snacking on raw fruits and veggies isn't appealing to you, try getting a little creative! With a juicer or blender you can make all kinds of healthy juices and smoothies using any kind of fruit or vegetable.


You can also try drying out fresh veggies and fruits to make delicious, healthy snacks to munch on at home or on the go. Just chop the produce up thin and lay it out on a baking pan, and add any seasonings you'd like (cinnamon and nutmeg are great for fruits!). Then all you have to do is pop them in your oven on the lowest heat setting and let them bake until they're all dried out.


15. Drink Water to Avoid Snacking and Overeating


Sometimes we feel hungry when, in reality, we're actually thirsty. The best way to find out which one it is, is to drink a big glass of water.


Chances are, if your body doesn't actually need food, your craving will go away within just a few minutes. If not, at least you're keeping yourself hydrated, and you will eat less with the water helping to fill you up.


16. Keep a Food Journal

Food Journal

Source: Ryan Snyder  

It's hard to improve your diet if you're not tracking what you eat. Keeping a food journal will help you better understand your current diet, recognize your progress, and identify areas where you can improve.


Food journals also help keep you accountable, so you can't “sneak” in snacks and unhealthy foods without considering the consequences. Just make sure not to leave anything out, even your “cheat” foods; after all, the only person you'd be deceiving and hurting is yourself.


Life Hacks and Tips for Getting Enough Exercise

Exercise Equipment

17. Slip in Micro Workouts Throughout Your Day


When your days are busy it can be difficult to find enough free time to get all the exercise you need. If you struggle with this, you can try filling in the gaps by doing mini workouts or stretches throughout the day.


You can do a mini workout any time you have 30-seconds to a few minutes of down-time. Once you start looking for chances to fit them in, you'll realize that you have dozens of random opportunities throughout the day to do a couple stretches or leg lifts.


Here are some micro-workout opportunities to look out for:

  • While waiting for food to cook in the microwave or oven
  • During commercial breaks on TV
  • Anytime you are waiting (e.g. while waiting for the shower to get warm, or for a guest to arrive, or for the bus or train, etc.)
  • During down-time in between activities


18. Get a Fitness Tracker

Fitness Tracker 

If you need some extra help motivating yourself to stay active, try using a fitness band or pedometer to track your steps. You'll be surprised at how encouraging and motivating it is to watch your step count in real time throughout the day.


Some fitness bands also have extra features that can help you keep track of your health goals. You can find ones that help you track your calories, the length and quality of your sleep, and give you detailed charts and reports on your daily physical activity.


19. Stay Home

Chair Exercises 

If you find that getting out the door is the hardest part of sticking to your exercise routine, an easy remedy is to just work out at home, instead.


Don't worry, you don't need to buy any special or expensive equipment if you don't want to. All you need is your body and a space big enough to move around.


There are thousands of exercise tapes and DVD's you can follow along with at home, and you can find thousands more on YouTube and elsewhere online. You can even choose from dozens of different styles and techniques—including aerobics, Tai Chi, Zumba, dancing, and much more—to keep it interesting and fun.


Here are some links to exercise videos that can help you stay in shape at home:


20. Pay Yourself


Pay yourself 

Adults often offer rewards to children to convince them do things they don't want to do, but seldom think to use the same technique on themselves. Believe it or not, incentives and rewards can actually be a very effective motivation tool for adults, too.


Try taking the money that you would have spent on a gym membership and pay it to yourself for working out, instead! Spend that extra $20-$100 on something extra for yourself, as a treat for practicing self-discipline.


Make sure you budget it out and decide whether to pay yourself after every week, every month, etc. This method only works if you stick to the rules and only give yourself the prize money after you've reached your workout goals.


21. Break Your Workouts into Smaller Time Blocks


Some people like to get all their physical activity for the day in at once, in one long, intense workout. But many people, especially people with COPD, find that long, grueling workouts just don't work for them.


That's why breaking up physical activity into smaller, bite-sized chunks is a more effective exercise method for many people. Instead of dreading an hour-long workout all day, you can plan two or three short, painless 20-minute blocks of exercise to make it less daunting.


22. Set a Timer (Or Start a TV Show)

Exercise with TV 

When it's time for your scheduled workout, set a timer so your brain knows there's a definite endpoint. You can start a video or TV show of the appropriate length to serve the same purpose (20 or 40-minute TV series work great).


When you break your exercise into smaller segments and set a time limit for yourself, you'll likely find that it's much easier to motivate yourself to get started and stay going. With the clock ticking down and a definite end in sight, it will be much easier to push yourself toward your activity goals.


You can boost your motivation even further by reserving a special show or video that you only let yourself watch during workouts. That will give you something extra special to look forward to every time you work out!


23. Choose Active Options

Choose to be more active

Source: Jonathan Lin

Every day you are faced with all kinds of minor choices, many of them having to do with physical activity.


You can choose between taking the elevator or stairs, or between a parking space at the back of the lot or a space near the door. How you decide when faced with these kinds of options can make a big difference in your overall amount of daily physical activity.


Consciously choosing to take the stairs wherever you go or replacing drives across the parking lot with a short stroll can truly add up over time. The best part is that it will hardly take any extra time, so you can get a little extra exercise without sacrificing your hobbies!


24. Bring a Friend


Workout Partner 

The hardest part of exercising is convincing yourself to actually get up and do it in the first place. That's when a workout buddy can make a huge difference.


If you schedule your workouts ahead of time with a friend it will be harder to change your mind or cancel on a whim. On days when you feel worn out or just don't feel like exercising, having a workout buddy to encourage you can be just the push you need to follow through.


25. Be Consistent


If you have difficulty getting enough exercise and physical activity, then you probably aren't following a consistent routine. Scheduling workouts at the same times every week and committing to them in advance is the best way to stick to a physical activity regimen.


If you've ever tried to stick to an exercise routine in the past, then you've probably experienced this first hand. When you work out on the same days every week, you'll build the habit fast and motivating yourself will become easier and easier every time.


However, when you vary your physical activity days or let yourself skip workouts, it's often very difficult to stay motivated and get back on track. Even though changes in your life and schedule are always inevitable, do your best to stick to your exercise plan no matter what. Even minor breaks in your weekly workout routine can set you back.


Tips for Staying Hydrated with COPD 


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